Friday, December 31, 2010

Electropop Singles of 2010

This has a Moroderesque sound to it.

Twenty Years Ago

America was fighting a war in the Middle East and some musicians decided to remake "Give Peace a Chance." To me it hasn't held up well but it's a nice time capsule.

Cockburn looks back.

As 1990 drew to a close, this was the top song:

the top hit of the moment

Happy New Year

Reflecting on the year, I realize that each of us is alloted the same amount of time. The challenge for me in 2011 is how to spend my time more wisely. And decluttering physically and mentally is the first step.

5 January update: Good piece by Ralph Nader on taking back time.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I checked Matt Savinar's site Life After the Oil Crash.Net and saw this message:

Breaking News: Monday December 20th, 2010

***Subscribe to the Free LATOC Breaking News Email List***
Last Friday's update will be the final LATOC Breaking News update. LATOC will remain as an archived resource here on the web but will no longer be updated. I'm moving on to focus on my astrological and related practices. Those of you who have asked about consultations, my standard rate is $200 for a full anaylsis of your chart in MS Word format. More infomation at my astrology site:

Best of luck,


Peak-oil cynics can bust a gut that Savinar is dropping LATOC for his astrology practice, but LATOC had a wealth of information, and also one of the liveliest forums (it stopped being updated in October).

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Miley Pilau

That's all I have to say about that.

Peak Oil at the Crossroads

Item 1:

The religion of peak oil passed its own apogee in 2010. It has had its last innings. Everywhere peak oil notions are seen to be in decline. The media are all but silent on the subject.

Peakoilism became meta-language for resistance to higher prices for oil, and for concern that oil will be exhausted in our lifetime. Such notions are founded on ignorance concerning oil exploration, of how the oil industry works, and how the price of oil is fixed.

More at the above URL.

Item 2: Matt Savinar's decision to end the discussion board at, not because he disbelieves in peak oil, but because he thought it was a distraction.

I wonder if the idea of peak oil will break through to the mainstream or wither.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fundraising Update from

"In the first fifteen days of our fund drive, you contributed $61,873. Please help us reach our goal go keep running for the next quarter."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Grisly Mama

The tagline from the movie describes the original "mama grizzly" as aptly as anything else.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

CounterPunch and Fundraising Updates

From CounterPunch:

Our fall fundraiser has almost run its course. We’re nearly there. But not quite. Nearly 1500 CounterPunchers from every state in the union, from every continent have rallied with money and messages of support. For us here at CounterPunch it’s always a nail-biting business. We tell you the truth every time. We don’t make our $75,000 target, we have to think about cutting back. Then you rally. If you haven’t yet, the time is now. We have just THREE DAYS, ending Sunday, to make our target.

In the first five days of our fund drive, you contributed $25,931. Please help us reach our goal go [sic] keep running for the next quarter.

The situation for is more dire; their site could end if they don't raise at least $150,000. They're one-sixth of the way.

Swans should have a fundraising update next Monday.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists also needs your help.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Where My Dogs At?

More from The Daily Grunt Archive

The Daily Grunt
If I have anything to say

November 11, 2010

The past two nights on CNN, Elliot Spitzer has grilled a couple of extreme Republican electees about their vows to drastically cut the federal budget. Senator-elect Rand Paul came off as a mad dog, blustering, evading, acting like a maniac (and a bully) -- in order to conceal the fact that he has no idea what can really be cut from the federal budget.

I predict that Rand Paul's politiical career will blow up within a couple of months after he takes a seat in the US Senate. He's just too crazy and belligerent to last. Wednesday night it was Texas Congressman Jeb Henserling's turn to embarrass himself with bluster and evasion -- though Spitzer eventually cornered him and drove a bandillario of reality into his neck. Check out the video. Scroll way down for the Rand Paul show.

David Stockman was also on last night and his remarks about QE-2 were positively shocking. The former Reagan budget chief called it the most reckless, dangerous policy he's ever seen, and more.... A real stunner....

Now AntiWar Needs Funds

Just as CounterPunch is about to meet (or almost meet) its $75,000 fundraising goal (Day 23: 1,345 donors, $68,750, if you're keeping track), now says:

Did you ever have one of those dreams where you're drowning, and there's no one to save you?

Well, that nightmare has become a reality for us here at We are now facing a situation in which the very existence of this Web site is being called into serious question. The funding we thought we could depend on to make up any shortfalls in our fundraising efforts has suddenly disappeared – and we are struggling to keep our heads above water.

Would you please throw us a lifeline in the form of a contribution?

We're facing a deficit of $150,000 – a shortfall that will probably sink us if we don't get an immediate flood of contributions from our readers.
Keep alive. Please donate today!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

CounterPunch and Swans Fundraising Update

From CounterPunch:

"We’ve been telling you for two weeks that either we meet our fundraising goal of $75,000 over the next three weeks or we'll be forced to drastically curtail the operation of our website.
Hundreds of you have rallied with donations. With two more weeks of our fundraiser to go, we’re more than half way to our target. And now a CounterPuncher has stepped forward with a magnificently generous pledge.

"This CounterPunch supporter will match every donation of $100 or more, to a combined total of $20,000. That means that any of you out there thinking of donating $50 should know that if you donate a further $50, CounterPunch will receive an additional $100. And if you plan to send us us $200 or $500 or more, he will give CounterPunch a matching $200 or $500 or more."

Day 14
Donors: 750
Amount: $50,200
From Swans:

"FUNDRAISING DRIVE: Thanks to the helping hand of Louis Proyect (see his message below) and the generosity of 13 donors we've raised almost $600 in the last two weeks. This is good news! But it also means that we need to raise another $1,900 before the end of the year. You do remember what Swans is about, right? "In a time of revisionism, faux-semblant, spinning news, and skewed information, Swans is about thinking, questioning, observing, and providing ideas that are lacking in the mainstream media." (It's also about Arts & Culture.) We've been doing it for almost 15 years with authors from many countries who appreciate and agree with our quiet radicalism, our Web exclusivity, and dedication to proper editing. Please help us carry on our tradition of providing you with only original work, not multi-posted stuff you find in most Web publications... Donate now!

"Many thanks to Louis Proyect, Alex Munro, Cecilio Morales, Samuel Bennett, Michael Yates, William O'Connor, Richard Brand, Nick Harlow, John Halle, Raymond Alford, Claudia Resch, Isidor Saslav, and Michael Fahey for their generous contributions."
James Wolcott joins the effort on behalf of CounterPunch.

The underlying lesson is that if you have money to spare, donate some to your favorite magazine.

Election Day

Monday, November 01, 2010

Kunstler's Letter From Above the Pacific

Now What?
By James Howard Kunstler
on October 31, 2010 10:35 PM
On Tuesday, when the Republican Party and its Tea Party chump-proxies re-conquer the sin-drenched bizarro universe of the US congress, they'll have to re-assume ownership of the stickiest web of frauds and swindles ever run in human history - and chances are the victory will blow up in their supernaturally suntanned, Botox-smoothed faces.
But don't cry for John Boehner, Barack Obama.
The President and his Democrats may have inherited this clusterfuck from the feckless George Bush but they flubbed every chance to mitigate any part of it, ranging from their failure to restore the rule of law in banking (by prosecuting the executives of major banks who oversaw the systematic swindle), to mis-directing our dwindling resources toward ends (such as "shovel-ready" new super-highways) that won't promote a credible future for this society, to misleading the public in the fantasy that alt-energy will offset the disruptions of peak oil (and allow us to keep running suburbia, the US Military, and WalMart by other means).
It's really too late for both parties. They're unreformable. They've squandered their legitimacy just as the US enters the fat heart of the long emergency. Neither of them have a plan, or even a single idea that isn't a dodge or a grift. Both parties tout a "recovery" that is just a cover story for accounting chicanery and statistical lies aimed at concealing the criminally-engineered national bankruptcy that they presided over in split shifts. Both parties are overwhelmingly made up of bagmen for the companies that looted America.
Alas, the damage is now so pervasive in money matters that the federal government could be toast as a viable enterprise, even if a new party or two spontaneously rose up out of the ruins of a plundered democracy. Anyway, one of them will not be the Tea Party, with its incoherent agenda and moron cadres who seek to put Jesus back in the US constitution, where he never was in the first place - though they don't know that.
Nor is there any party on the left or even in the center with a clue or a moral compass. Its just one of those tragic moments in history - like 1850s America, when a strange vacuum of thought occupied the heart of political life, and the scene was cluttered up with mere place-holders like Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan. (Can you state a single idea or position, these political ciphers advanced?)
Where we stand now is on the cusp of another giant step into the abyss, since the latest storm of Foreclosure-Gate suggests pretty strongly that mega-tons of mortgage-backed securities are assured of blowing up, as well as the sundry derivatives of these things (CDOs, CDOs-squared, plus the massive fetid matter infesting the alternative cosmos of credit default swaps). If you follow the media-of-record like The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, you would have to conclude that there is no extant plausible notion among financial leaders as to how the fiasco of botched mortgage-and-title documentation can be resolved. After three weeks of emerging events around this debacle, the consensus among the power brokers is to pretend that there's no problem, that the issue of missing, forged, post-dated, trashed, or non-existent paper related to claims on property can just be put aside, brushed under the rug, glossed over, ignored.
Let me tell you something: this problem is not going away. At the very least it is going to paralyze the real estate industry for as far ahead as anyone can see. For another thing, it could force the disclosure of what the banks are holding in their vaults in the way of worthless paper and expose their insolvency. For still another thing, it could lead to rafts of lawsuits that would additionally shove the banks toward collapse, demolish the claims that underlie our currency, call into question the meaning of property ownership per se that is the basis of Anglo-American law, and tie up the court system until kingdom come. In any case, every pension fund, state government, and insurance operation would be crippled. I could go on but you get the picture.... This might all sound extreme, but I repeat: nobody with any authority in this land has proposed a plausible way out.
By the way, I haven't even touched on the totally insane but now accepted practices of the Federal Reserve attempting to stage manage the velocity of money by so-called quantitative easing - a.k.a. the US writing checks to itself - because even that nonsense assumes that everything else remains more or less stable.
This is what the two major parties can look forward to as we swing around into the Yuletide season and then into 2011. The proud winners of seats in congress and the senate might as well put on clown suits and little pointed hats on Wednesday morning and drive around the Washington monument in toy cars. There will be a desperate need for a new politics in this country, for people unafraid to tell the truth and act in the genuine public interest. If we can't generate it from the saner quarters of this country where people think thoughts that comport with reality, I'm afraid we could see some generals step into the picture.
I write literally over the middle of the Pacific Ocean, en route from Australia where I spent the past week - not on vacation. It's a reminder that there are a lot of other players in the wide world - not all of them nations on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Golf Courses

"President Hugo Chavez said some of Venezuela’s golf courses should be expropriated and used for other purposes."--Bloomberg News

President Chavez's show, Alo Presidente.

In a time when oil is scarce, golf courses will either revert to wilderness or be converted to farms, with or without the government commandeering the land.

Happy Halloween from Bluebeard Cod.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Cockburn vs. Proyect

In his column praising the TEA Party, Alexander Cockburn slags Louis Proyect:

"Who says these days that in the last analysis, the only way to change the status quo and challenge the Money Power of Wall St is to overthrow the government by force? That isn’t some old Trotskyist lag like Louis Proyect, dozing on the dungheap of history like Odysseus’ lice-ridden old hound Argos, woofing with alarm as the shadow of a new idea darkens the threshold."

Proyect responds:

"This is the kindest thing I have heard from a Nation Magazine writer ever since Marc Cooper called me a 'prolific buffoon'. ...
I should add that I spotted Alex’s fulmination not 5 minutes after sending in $25 to the Counterpunch fund-drive."
As for myself, I'm taking CounterPunch's appeal (below) in stride. As of day eleven, 605 donors have given a total of $32,500. At this rate, CP should meet or even surpass its goal in three weeks.

"CounterPunch needs your financial support! Either we meet our fundraising goal of $75,000 over the next three weeks or we'll be forced to drastically curtail the operation of our website.That’s the bottom line reality for us, every year. We’re not sitting on big reserves. We operate on a very thin margin."

Instead, I'm more inclined to feed Swans. As I learned from another Louis Proyect post, Swans is also holding a fundraiser for $2,500 (a mere 3.33% of CounterPunch's goal).

Some background on Swans.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bret Easton Ellis to Appear on "Che Tempo, Che Fa"

As he tweeted, "On the final night of the Imperial Bedrooms world tour I find myself on an Italian talk-show with...Phil Collins. Somehow this makes sense."

The website of the talk show, Che Tempo, Che Fa.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Blog Updates

I added Baptist Planet to the Politics section of the list of links. Professor Zero is now a private blog. Since it's still online, it will stay in the Politics section. Professor Zero, who now goes by Huehueteotl, has a research blog, Seminario for short, which I have added under the Education section.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Get Out of the Car

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Yesterday I saw Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. Although it's not as good as the original, it explains the financial bubble of 2008 very well.

(Factoid: Oliver Stone's son Sean, who played Gekko's son Rudy in the original movie, has a cameo as "Hedge Fund Trader #1.")

Full Bore to the Vanishing Point

Discussion of the movie here.

Dealbreaker's articles on the movie.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Link Update: FindLaw's Writ

I just added FindLaw's Writ to the BLAWgs section of my list of links.

Seedy Rahm

Monday, September 27, 2010

How Far is Heaven?

What can I say? This guy was a major bunghole even before the allegations against him had surfaced.

28 September update:
Wise words from Margaret Kimberley.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Atomic Moog

A different remix of a song I already know and like.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Revelations that some silly goose "dabbled into [sic] witchcraft" at least afford me the opportunity to present this clip of Frank Sinatra singing, what else:

And this one, a duet with Anita Baker, from 1993:

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Stop Me Before I Vote Again"

I just found and added this blog to my list of links, under the politics section.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Happy Motoring Still in Effect

What I wrote in May 2009. People were still driving around this past Memorial Day, and showing off their cars on the Fourth of July, so Kunstler's prediction did not come to pass. Incidentally, the empty Shell on Kam. Avenue is now a mini-used car lot. Old gas stations tend either to become mini-car lots, or cafes, like the one on the corner of Waianuenue Avenue and Keawe Street. But Island Chevrolet is still empty.

Traditionally, people drive around on Memorial Day. Kunstler implies that this is the last one for doing that.

Island Chevrolet closed its Hilo and Kona dealerships last week, and I plan to post some photos of the Hilo lot, empty but not yet desolate. For that, there's a gas station on Kamehameha Avenue, closed for several years now. I think it was a Shell.
Scary People, Scary Times
By James Howard Kunstler
on September 13, 2010 7:24 AM
In that order. The scary people have already started coming out of the woodwork. The times lately have been mostly uncertain, but soon they'll turn scary, too, as it becomes clearer that the people running things in the USA have no idea what's going on or what they're going to do about it -- and what's going on is an involuntary permanent re-set of the terms of everyday life, from a wet-dream robotic "consumer" techtopia to something more like the first chapter of Tobacco Road, with a family of half-wits reduced by hard times to fighting over a sack of turnips in a roadside ditch. That's the story-arc anyway, and lots of people won't like it. But the theme of dwindling resources is not a pretty one.
The most striking feature of the current scene is the absence of a coherent vision of our multiple related predicaments and how they add up to a valid picture of reality. To be precise, I mean our predicaments of 1.) energy resources, 2.) vanishing capital, and 3.) ecocide. This inability to decode the clear and present dangers to civilized life is a failure of leadership and authority without precedent in the American story.
On the eve of the only other comparable national convulsion -- the lead-up to the Civil War - a strenuous public debate was able to focus on the salient question of the day, namely whether human slavery would continue in this country. Lincoln and Douglas parried for hours in the hot sun, arguing unscripted in complete sentences without the aid of teleprompters or offstage spin doctors. Yet no one above age of nine failed to understand what was at issue.
Note the diminishing returns of technology at work in our time, making it impossible for us to think straight, despite the proliferation of snazzy devices, programs, networks, blog-clouds, and the pervasive, non-stop spewage of so-called information all intended to enhance communication. What did Lincoln have to work with? A pencil.
Today, no one present in the political arena appears to have a clue and, lacking clues, any ability to articulate the terms of what we face. Both major parties are hostage to a peculiar nostalgia, a wish to return to the time when America could dream up any kind of machine or breakfast cereal or techtronic brassiere, and sell the manufactured surplus from our own happily oversold markets to the rest of the clamoring world - even lending them the cash (at interest) to buy the stuff. America makes and the world takes, was the theme song then. That earnest, upward-striving society of Eisenhower simplicity, of well-paid factory workers dreaming of a little summer place at the lake, and the Main Streets bustling in the cheerful early twilight of Christmas Eve, and the Beach Boys crooning about "fun, fun, fun," and purloined German physicists stashed in comfortably aire-kooled rooms, turning a few tossed-off equations into moon-shots, and Bob Hope cracking wise before a nationwide audience of car-dealers and self-satisfied Rotarians - well that America has imploded like a weevil-infested hubbard squash in a back pantry. And all the prayers to Moloch by the Jesus boomers in and out of congress won't make it whole again.
There is no theme song for contraction - at least not one with a hummable tune. The current background music sounds like Stockhausen run through scrap-metal shredder. No wonder everybody's so nervous.
A few hours ago I drove up the immaculately conceived highways north out of Detroit to the drear industrial outlands of Happy Motoring history, north past Flint and Saginaw where an exhausted American Dream is being hunted down by the angry ghosts of the Wyandots. The heartland these days looks like it's preparing for a return trip to the 9th century A.D. Nobody knows what's ailing it, but they're whispering of "last stands" out here around the all-you-can-eat buffet at the year 'round Christmas Shoppe.
And the Tea Party aims to fix all this, to make things right again. I listen to their blather about "freedom" and all I can imagine is the sound of boots outside the door, and men in badly-fitted camo uniforms and buzzcut hair commanding me to accept John Boehner as my personal savior. Pardon me, but I don't see how this will really improve anybody's lot in life.
You can just feel the heat of emotion rising, even as the northern hemisphere cools down. We can't speak clearly anymore; we can only beat drums. All across the land self-appointed saviors are stepping up to heroically rescue the squandered entitlements of the bygone day: Rand Paul, the Kentucky physician who (like his dad) subscribes to the idea that the earth is only about 4000 years old; [Maybe, but Ron Paul has opposed both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and ending both, and withdrawing from other countries, are prerequisites for preparing for the Long Emergency as much as relocalization or anything else Kunstler proposes--P.Z.] Dan Maes, the Colorado Tea Party candidate for governor who believes that bicycling is a "gateway drug" to communism; Sharron Angle, the Nevada polymoron running John Birch Society scripts to the psychologically-spavined blackjack dealers crowding the unemployment lines. ("The Trilateral Commission and the Bilderburgers did this to you!"); and lonely Joe Miller, the hermit-attorney of Fairbanks, stalking out of his survivalist cave to drive a silver lance through the flaming heart of the ravening liberal windigo.
They can flap their gums with this nonsense as much as they like, bit it's not likely to clarify things. Maybe this is what death is like: a descent into the dark maw of simply unknowing. No wonder people fear it.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Borders in Hilo: The Last Day

At ten P.M. tonight Borders in Hilo will close permanently. I went one last time yesterday afternoon and took these photos.

The children's section was the first to be depleted. The Hawaiiana section was nearly bare, and so were the romance, mystery, and sci fi shelves. The usual checkout impulse items were either sold out or put away. But the magazine section was still full, perhaps because periodicals were exempt from discounts.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"Was That All It Was"

I like the tempo of this remix. Jean Carne sounds a little like Phyllis Hyman.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ted Stevens and Cowboy Boots

19. Ted Stevens

Charges: It’s amazing, really, what can take a 40-year senator down. You can take money for legislative favors, but whatever you do, don’t let your lobbyist friends give you a gaudy statue. Alaska owes its very statehood to Stevens’ willingness to break the law—he was illegally lobbying congress to pass the bill from within the Eisenhower administration in 1954. “We were violating the law,” he happily admitted years later. Stevens has gotten rich off his lack of integrity, and the friends it has brought him. And what friends they are, paying for a house-sized extension on his house, offering him land deals that multiply his money tenfold in six years, and all he had to do is funnel hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to them, bringing home between 500 and a thousand dollars per Alaskan annually. Finally busted after a lifetime of graft, charged and convicted on seven felonies, Stevens still very nearly won reelection. And people talk about Chicago.

Exhibit A: Four days after being convicted, Stevens told a debate audience “I have not been convicted.”

Sentence: Pushed through a series of tubes—each one narrower than the last.
Re: Ken Buck's boast that he doesn't wear high heels but cowboy boots:

Cowboy boots do have high heels.

Traditional cowboy boots have narrow toes, high heels that slope under the foot, and leather tops that reach halfway up the shins. Designed for men who spent virtually their entire day in the saddle, cowboy boots are notoriously uncomfortable to walk in, and though adjustments have been made over the years, the boots remain unsuited for almost any work a cowboy or a rancher has to do on foot. Cowboy boots have also led a long double life as fashion accessories, beginning in the early 20th century, when Western life and work done on the open range were first mythologized in movies. Most cowboy boots that are manufactured now are not sold to people who will ever wear them on a horse, and the boots are valued more for the image they have acquired than the work they were originally intended to do. [Emphasis mine.--P.Z.]

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Monday, August 02, 2010

Black Dice, "La Cucaracha"

Skidding Toward Fall

...A few people will make more money than they did before, but overall we are in an epic contraction. More people and organizations will go broke than will thrive. It will seem very unfair.

The true destination of the US economy is to get smaller and for two reasons mainly: 1.) Capital ("money") is vanishing out of our system steadily and rapidly due to a massive collective failure to repay money owed on loans, mortgages, debts, and assorted obligations. 2.) Access to the primary resource we depend on for powering the economy (oil) is increasingly beyond our control -- even worse, under the control of people who would like us to eat shit and die.

We really have a choice between two ways of dealing with this. We can downsize and re-scale consciously and coherently, or we can continue to chase after the phantom of growth and allow the nation to fall into a shambles of desperation. So far into this long emergency of an economic fiasco, we seem to have chosen the pursuit of a phantom.

Interestingly, NPR ran a local story over the weekend -- an obscure little item -- saying that Amtrak was determined to raise the average speed of its passenger trains running north from Connecticut through Vermont from 40 miles-per-hour to 60mph. That would be some triumphant accomplishment! It would bring us back to about an 1860 level of service. Of course, I happen to believe that we will be lucky in a few years if we are able to enjoy an 1860's standard-of-living, so maybe this little side venture in public transport is perfectly in tune with America's future.

[I couldn't find the NPR story, but this article from the Brattleboro Reformer details a twenty-year plan by Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont to renovate their rail system.--P.Z.]

Otherwise, these are just ominous days of drift in a place of stillness where the uncomplaining robot traders tirelessly work their magic in the server farms of Wall Street, while their putative "handlers" enjoy the dainty pleasures of the Hamptons -- which seem to center these days on pounding back vast draughts of premium vodka in conjunction with Red Bull, cocaine, hydroponic ganja, Viagra, and Klonopin to round off all those edges.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Among the books I bought on a recent visit to Borders was The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies by Richard Heinberg.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Post 500! "Street Life" by Randy Crawford

Used to great effect in Jackie Brown.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Borders Hilo: The Last Month

Borders Books in Hilo will close 21 August. I'll try to document its last month of operation, and share some memories.

31 July update: The headline from today's Hawaii Tribune-Herald:

Walgreens May Move Into Border's [sic] Building

An excerpt:

Walgreens, a nationwide drugstore chain that arrived in Hawaii in 2007, is planning its first Big Island store, a Hawaii County administrator has confirmed.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

"It's You", Stevie Wonder-Dionne Warwick Duet

Even a minor Stevie Wonder song is better than most songs by most artists. This one, a duet with Dionne Warwick, is lovely.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Case for Rail

in the August issue of The American Conservative:

The Case for Rail
For half a century, Washington has subsidized road socialism and stranded us all.

William S. Lind: What’s so conservative about federal highways?

Glen Bottoms: Keeping costs under control

Christopher B. Leinberger: Private development can fund public infrastructure.

John Norquist: Why cities still matter

John Robert Smith: Saving downtowns

Monday, July 12, 2010

Where Have We Been? Where Are We Going?

asks Kunstler.

The reality I spend these days rambling the river with is the reality of a nation riding a great wave of entropy into the unknown. Only at this stage of the ride can we indulge in our Goth fantasies of the charming vampire nether-life. Believe me, when things really get dark we will all be wishing desperately for something more like lambs-in-the-meadow and the kindly touch of a loving hand and the dim memory of what it was like to care about anything or anyone.

Where we are now, to me, is the real dark time, the proverbial moment before the dawn. The depravity of our culture, Disney merchandise, cool ranch Doritos, and all, is something that people of the future will marvel at for centuries to come. The purity of our surrender will fascinate them. They will conclude that we looked into the abyss... and decided that we liked what we saw in there.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Bret Easton Ellis on "Tavis Smiley"

Friday, June 25, 2010

A telling comment, from a 2009 Investor's Business Daily editorial by Newt Gingrich and Steve Everley.

And recently, in the Gulf of Mexico, BP announced they had made a huge new discovery of oil, estimated to be as large as the biggest oil-producing spots in the Gulf, which means it could supply as much as 300,000 barrels of oil per day.

It's just too bad that oil is being "supplied" without a container.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sprawled Out

I need to read this more. It looks interesting.

Patti LaBelle: If You Asked Me To

Yesterday, while helping clean out a closet, mainly by lifting heavy boxes of books, I took breaks by watching G4's "Movies That Don't Suck", including Licence to Kill. As the end credits began to roll, I heard the opening strains of a very familiar song, Celine Dion's breakout hit, "If You Asked Me To." But this is the original version, which Patti LaBelle recorded for the movie soundtrack. Though overshadowed by Dion's rendition, LaBelle's is far superior in my view. What do you think?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Kunstler on the BP-made disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and how it relates to the Long Emergency.

For the moment we can only speculate on what the still-unresolved incident will mean for America's oil supply. The zeal to prosecute BP for something like criminal negligence has bestirred a Department of Justice comatose during the rape-and-pillage of the US financial system. BP may be driven out of business, but then what? The net effect of the oil spill, one way or another, will be the gradual shut-down of oil drilling activity in the Gulf of Mexico. New government supervision will make operations very costly, if not non-viable, and the surviving companies will probably pack up for the west coast of Africa where supervision is almost non-existent. Anyway you cut it, the US will produce less oil and import more -- and have to rely on the political stability of places like Angola and Nigeria, not to mention the simmering Middle East.

So far, also, the US has done nothing in the way of holding a serious national political discussion about the the most important part of the story: our pathological dependency on cars. I don't know if this will ever happen, even right up to the moment when the lines form at the filling stations. For years, anyway, the few public figures such as Boone Pickens who give the appearance of concern about our oil problem, end up down the rabbit hole of denial when they get behind schemes to run the whole US car-and-truck fleet on something besides gasoline.

This unfortunate techno-narcissism shows that almost nobody wants to think about living with fewer cars driving fewer miles. We're going to be dragged there kicking and screaming, but that's our destination, like it or not. All the effort now going into developing alt-fuels and "green" cars is just a form of "bargaining" on the Kubler-Ross transect of grief.

Traveling around the US, it's easy to understand our failure to come to grips with reality. The nation is fully outfitted for extreme car dependency. You go to places like Atlanta and Minneapolis and you understand how deep we're into this. We spent all our collective national treasure -- and quite a bit beyond that in the form of debt -- building the roadway systems and the suburban furnishings for that mode of existence. We incorporated it into our national identity as the American Way of Life. Now, we don't know what else to do except defend it at all costs, especially by waving the talismanic magic wand of techno-innovation.

The obvious remedy for the oil-and-car problem would be to live in walkable towns and neighborhoods served by the kind of public transit that people are not ashamed to ride in. But it may be too late for that. We're going to be a much poorer society from now on. We squandered the financial resources for that transition on too many other things. We're stuck with our investments in houses and their commercial accessories, built where they were built, and no Jolly Green Giant is going to pick them up and move them closer together in an artful way that adds up to real towns. A reorganization of American life will occur, but now it will be on much less deliberate terms, a much messier and more destructive operation, a default to the smaller scale by extreme necessity, with a lot of losses along the way. The Deepwater Horizon incident only hastens the process.

I'll discuss a good article on the three main ways countries have responded and will respond to the peak oil phenomenon.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Just a Rock n Roll Clown

Cf. "Just a Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody" by David Lee Roth.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rand Paul and Buddy

I'll delve into the Rand Paul situation later. Right now, I just wanted to post these pictures showing the haircuts of Rand Paul and Buddy the beagle from Where My Dogs At? It wasn't until yesterday, when I read Field Negro's crack on Rand Paul's hair, that I realized the similarity.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Good Riddance to Scoundrel Arlen Specter

Here's why.

But it was Specter-the-prosecutor who seemed to relish eviscerating Hill - to the horror of almost every woman watching. Thomas won confirmation and for years Hill had to hire a bodyguard because of serious death threats.

Every time I saw Arlen Specter on television after that, I got queasy. The man had no shame or even an understanding of how flat-out sexist he was. I confess that I was thrilled to see him defeated, especially with all the Democratic Establishment supposedly having his back.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bret Easton Ellis Interviewed

To promote his latest novel, Imperial Bedrooms, due 15 June, Bret Easton Ellis has done interviews with Vice and Movieline.

The Movieline interview unfolds over five days this week.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Spring Blog Updating in Progress

I changed the background color to gray, which I hope is more readable. I'm still trying to get the hang of blog design, and may have nicer typefaces in the future.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Links Update: Feminema

On a whim I clicked onto the link for Feminema at Professor Zero's blog, and decided to add it to my List of Links. There's still much to do in the way of spring cleaning, but I see Hattie is organizing her sidebar too.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Kunstler: Virtual World Isn't the Real World

Episode 108 of the KunstlerCast: The Virtual Realm vs. the Authentic.

It's ironic that this is broadcast via the Internet, but still well worth a listen.

Relevant to the topic: Neil Postman's Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Most Loathsome Americans, 2009

I just found the list of the Most Loathsome Americans, 2009, compiled by The Buffalo Beast. Number 18 is Blankenship, head of Massey Energy, and this was before the recent mining disaster in West Virginia.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Much to Ponder

Hattie's Web is one of the first sites I check every day. Hattie is skeptical of charter schools and addressed this in a recent post. I think public education will not be feasible in its current state, especially in a post-peak oil world. I have a lot to read and re-read on public education and will post something more thoroughly later.

Kunstler has a great column today on New York City.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Kunstler Asks, Our Turn?

Kunstler thinks America will go crazy. I'm not so sure.
Our Turn?
By James Howard Kunstler
on March 29, 2010 7:49 AM

Nations go crazy. It's terrifying when it happens, especially to a major nation with the ability to project its craziness outward. We look back on the psychotic break of Germany in 1933 and still wonder how the then-best-educated population in Europe could fall under the sway of a sociopathic political program. We behold the carnage and devastation left in the wake of that episode, and decades later you still can do little more than shake your head in bewilderment.
China had a psychotic break in the 1960s in its "cultural revolution," provoked by the mad neo-emperor Mao. He sent cadres of Chinese baby boomer youths rampaging across the land, turned every institution upside down, and let millions starve. Mao's China lacked the ability then to export this mischief, but enough of his own people suffered.
Cambodia was the next humdinger of a national nervous breakdown when the Paris-educated classic marxist Pol Pot decided to make the world's biggest omelette by cracking a million eggs. He took everybody wearing eyeglasses, everybody who appeared to have a thought in his or her head, and sent them out to the bush to be worked to death, or shot in ditches, or disposed of otherwise. The mounds of skulls remain to tell the tale.
Lately we've had the Hutu-Tutsi genocides in Rwanda, the craziness in former Yugoslavia, the cruelty of Darfur, the international suicide-bomber craze (including today's blasts in Moscow). Surely, I've left a few out... but these are minor episodes compared to what be coming next.
Am I the only one who senses it might be America's turn to go nuts? I don't mean a family squabble, like the Boomer-Hippie-Vietnam uproar that was essentially an adolescent rebellion against bad parenting in the national household. I mean a genuine descent into madness, with the very high probability of persecution, violence, murder, and mayhem -- all more or less sponsored by various authorities and institutions.
The Republican Party is doing a great job in provoking such a dangerous episode by making consensual governance impossible in a time of awful practical problems and challenges. They're in the process, right now, of transforming themselves from the party of "no" to the party of no decency, no common sense, no ideas, no conception of the public interest, and no respect for the traditions that they pretend to stand for, like due process of law. In the days since the passage of health care reform, they've gone as far as inciting mobs to violence against their fellow congressmen and senators -- bricks thrown through windows, death threats made, coffins placed in the yards of their adversaries. One day soon, somebody with a gun or an explosive device, someone with a very sketchy sense-of-self, and perhaps a recent record of personal failure and humiliation, is going to sacrifice himself to become the Tea Party's first martyr by shooting up a shopping mall in some blue district.
Republican leaders' avidity to ally themselves with the followers of hate-monger entertainers like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and the Fox News gang is only the beginning of the process that will lead to a political convulsion possibly worse than the one that started at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, 1861. If it comes, it will certainly be a far more incoherent conflict. The guerilla forces of the radical right will not know whether they are fighting for WalMart, or the Financial Services arm of General Electric, or against abortions, or for bigger and better freeways, or the rights of thoracic surgeons to drive families into bankruptcy, or against the idea of climate change, or evolution, or Jews-in-the-media, or their neighbors having something they feel envious about....
In the background, of course, is an economy just barely holding together with political baling wire and duct tape. It has very poor prospects for continuing in the way it was designed to run, on cheap oil and revolving debt. The upshot is an economy now destined for permanent contraction, and nobody has a plan for managing that contraction -- which will include awful failures in food production, in disintegrating water systems, electric grids, roadway systems, schools... really anything that requires ongoing public investment. It includes a financial system that cannot come up with capital deployable for productive purpose, or currencies that can be relied on to hold value, or markets that function without interference.
For its part, the Democratic Party has done a poor job of clearly articulating the realities of these things, and in actions like bailouts they've given the false impression that the nation can somehow engineer a return to the reckless hedonism of the late 20th century. My guess is that the situation is so desperate now that President Obama and his supporters can't risk telling the truth about the comprehensive contraction we face.
The health care reform act was a tortured way of dealing with some of this indirectly. It will absolutely lead to a kind of health care "rationing," but rationing is unavoidable in an economy where there is less of everything that people need, and fewer resources to spread around. The difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Republicans would prefer to see the rationing accomplished by money-grubbing health insurance companies denying coverage to policy-holders who get sick, or by the bankrupting of households (i.e. losers who deserve to die anyway), while the Democrats want to at least try to distribute what we can a little more fairly. The larger failure of both factions to emulate better systems running in sister societies like Canada and France is something that history will judge.
I was in favor of the health care reform act for the reason of that basic difference between the Right and the Left. For all its flaws -- and perhaps even the prospect that we are too far gone in national bankruptcy to ever get all its provisions running -- I believe it was necessary for our national morale to pass the bill, to prove that we could do something besides remain stuck in paralysis and bickering indefinitely. And it was necessary to smack down the Party of Cruelty, to inform ourselves that we are not quite ready to go completely crazy.
Whatever his flaws, omissions, and failures, I'm impressed with President Obama's ability to conduct himself like an adult, like a good father, in the face of the most unseemly provocations by his red-faced adversaries John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint, and all the other apoplectic opportunists trying so desperately to turn the United States into a high-definition Jesus tele-theocracy of Perpetual NASCAR. As economic conditions worsen -- I believe they will -- I hope Mr. Obama can discipline these maniacs. I would like to see him start by instructing his attorney general to look into the connection between Republican officials (including staff members) and the threats of violence and murder that were made last week around the country.
My novel, The Witch of Hebron, a sequel to World Made By Hand, will be published in September by The Atlantic Monthly Press.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Blogcleaning in Progress

I'll be taking out defunct links and adding new ones to my Ever-Evolving List of Links (click All Links in the sidebar to see). Just now I added a link to Smatter of Opinion in Politics (Hawaii) and deleted, which has been offline for several months.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


From Kunstler's latest:

Being an actualist, I'm in favor of getting real about things, and the reality we've entered is one of comprehensive contraction, especially for our cities. One of the reasons places like Cleveland (and Detroit, and Milwaukee, and St Louis, and Kansas City....) continue to fail in their redevelopment efforts is because they are already too big. They became overgrown organisms a while ago, unsuited to the realities of the future -- especially the energy resource realities of the future -- and they have tried everything except consciously contracting into smaller, finer, denser, differently-scaled organisms. In fact, the trend up until the so-called housing bubble of recent years was to just keep on expanding ever outward beyond the suburban frontier, which left our cities in a condition like imploded death-stars -- cold and inert at the center, with debris speeding uselessly outward to an unreachable infinity.

This future we're entering, which I call the long emergency, compels us to imagine our society differently. Our cities and towns exist where they do because they occupy important sites. Cleveland is where a significant river empties into the world's greatest inland sea (which has the additional amazing benefit of being fresh water). Some human settlement will continue to be there, very probably a place of consequence, but it will not be run under the same circumstances that produced, for instance, the civic center of Daniel Burnham with its giant Beaux Arts courthouses, banks, and municipal towers.

This disintegrating nation is woefully distracted by Web 2.0, iPads, Avatar movies, Facebook, and the idiot celebrity spectacles of TV, not to mention the disasters of job loss, foreclosure, medical extortion, bankruptcy, corporate loot-ocracy, and the squandered moments of politics. We know we have to go somewhere. We know that something like history is leaving us behind. We have no idea how to get to a new place. And we're spending most of our mental energy gaping into the rear-view mirror, which is the last place to look for your destination.

The confusion is apt to get a lot worse before it gets better. I'm not saying this to be ornery but because I believe it is true, and it will benefit us to know the odds we're up against. The confusion is going to generate a lot of ideas that are inconsistent with reality -- especially involving the seductive nostrums of technocracy. Our redemption will be found closer to the ground in the things we do by hand. But we don't know that yet, and we're going to try everything except looking there before we find out.

If you haven't already, read BAD by Paul Fussell. It is in part a look at America's flight from actuality.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Power of Bhangra

Just discovered this video today. A bhangra-infused update of "The Power."

Kunstler vs. Stossel

March 5, 2010

My Invitation From Fox News
On Mar 3, 2010, at 4:52 PM, Lott, Maxim wrote:
Hi Howard,

John Stossel of the FOX Business Network is doing a show this Friday at 6pm on zoning. We’re going to be comparing zoning rules in Cleveland and Houston, and will also have Randal O’Toole on the show. He will say that we need to get rid of zoning because it gives the government planners too much control.
I was on a John Stoessel ABC show a few years ago and I consider him a completely unethical person, since he used me as a straw man and distorted everything I had to say -- in the editing process.
Randall O'Toole is a shill for the sprawl-builders. You deserve him.
Please tell Stoessel he can kiss my ass.

James Howard Kunstler
“It’s All Good”

Of course, seeing Kunstler on that aforementioned ABC show is how I heard of him in the first place.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Oscar Predictions Half Right

From Bret Easton Ellis's Twitter

Oscar night 2010: George Clooney, Streep, Christoph Waltz, Mo'Nique...
10:42 AM Nov 30th, 2009 via web

Two out of four isn't bad.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Alice in Pandora

Does this sound familiar?

Reviews were mixed, with critics more enthused by the movie's visual splendor than its narrative essence.--From a Reuters review of Alice in Wonderland.

(Nice phrase, that "narrative essence".)

Cop Out seems to have in its plot some implausibilities and inconsistency, but I'd rather go see that than Avatar or Alice. At least it promises to be funny on purpose rather than unintentionally.

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Left Review at Fifty

Monday, February 15, 2010

Euroland and Tea Partiers

Pungent commentary by Kunstler on the economic crisis in Europe, Greece in particular.

And Auntie Hattie, opining on Kunstler's column from 8 February, is not worried by the Tea Party movement.

In response to Kunstler's claim that the "Tea Party people are the corn-pone Nazis I have been warning you about" Hattie says:

The Weimar Republic and the Third Reich are historical eras I happen to know something about. I lived in Germany and Switzerland for many years, and when I came back to the States studied the period extensively in college and read many sources in both languages. Nothing going on now reminds me of that period. We are in a totally unknown world and trying to understand what's happening through false analogies from past events.

And no, the Teabaggers are not Nazis. They don't at all resemble the raggedy resentnicks who were the backbone of the Nazi Party. One flaw in leftist thinking has been to lay the blame for the rise of the Nazis on the middle class, especially the reviled bourgeoisie. Statistics show that the majority of the Nazis were the working class and peasants.

The Teabaggers are a scheme to make money, and that is their only purpose. They are playing affluent dumb people for suckers. They can't build a viable movement without inviting in the poors, but since they are just out for the buck, they will keep such people at bay. Their "audience" is middle aged and elderly people with some means but no brains who get all their ideas about life from Fox News and other garbage TV sources.

The Tea Party movement is definitely a conservative-populist one. As Firedoglake points out, a rift is developing between the libertarians who started the movement and the national and neo-conservatives who came late and are trying to co-opt it all.

Ron Paul himself warns that the Tea Party "might not necessarily build the [Republican] party."
"'They get frustrated, they act out and sometimes they act too angrily and sometimes it doesn't come off well,'Paul told MCNBC's [sic] Rachel Maddow on Wednesday."

Though premature and inaccurate in calling the Tea Partiers the "corn pone Nazis", Kunstler offers a compelling case that the Long Emergency will "produce a lot of economic losers, and many of these will be members of an angry and aggrieved former middle class."

Tenured Radical writes, "I would say that the spine of this protest is not any well considered opposition to health care, but to taxes, and to the idea of government itself…" The Tea Party has attracted many protestors for different, sometimes contradictory, causes (e.g., low taxes but keeping a large military).

(Fun fact: In the first photo (left edge) from the post, some guy is holding a sign that reads BEST ICE CREAM EVER! Milwaukee Frozen Custard. The sign [not that particular one] can be seen here.)

18 February update: A discussion on Kunstler's anti-Tea Party column at Life After the Oil Crash.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ed Case Lookalikes

Whom do you think Ed Case looks more like: Ted Forth or Boomer Esiason? I say Boomer, but Ted Forth is very close too.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Avatar, a.k.a Juggernaut

Avatar discussed in connection with David Foster Wallace's essay "F/X Porn."

(The late David Foster Wallace often contributed to Harper's and this blog asks "What if Avatar Took Over Harper's Findings?")

In an interesting footnote, Avatar is predicted to surpass Titanic's $600 million domestic box office take tomorrow, when Oscar nominations are announced.

(Revised 1 February 2010)

19 February update: Box Office Mojo reports that Avatar has earned almost $670 million domestically and $1.7 billion overseas for a total of almost $2.4 billion.